AUGUST 20, 2008
(STAR) WRY BREAD By Philip Cu-Unjieng - For those seeking ultimate Tekkie satisfaction, it may be tucked away along Building 3 of Fort Boni’s High Street, but iStudio’s newest branch has become a mecca, a beacon, a virtual paradise, for all those enamoured with the products and gizmos branded Apple and Macintosh. A store that encourages and guarantees the most interactive of introductions to their products is a godsend for most customers — and this, iStudio delivers with extreme gusto. Along with the other iStudio branches at the Gateway Mall, Shangri-La Plaza Mall and V-Mall (Yes readers, in another time and place, we knew this as Virra Mall), the Fort Boni store carries the distinction of being an Apple Premium Reseller and an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

As Macintel, Inc.’s CEO Patrick Yeung and COO Larry Ang were proud to explain, it’s not every retailer or distributor that gets accorded that status. Years of reliability of service, dependability and proficiency in product knowledge of the staff, and the readiness to maintain optimum stocks of the various and latest of Apple products and accessories, all form part of the “baggage” one must carry before one gets awarded those distinctions. One really has to walk into the stores, peruse the desktops, notebooks, displays and software, iPod digital music players and accessories, talk and confer with the staff, and one begins to understand the kind of commitment iStudio has made to earn the status conferred by their Apple principals. Whether one is in photography, music, video, publishing, or just into these products, one will be astounded by the “ways and means” in which Apple has developed laptops, software and what have you to make those preoccupations or interests that much more vivid and “alive.”

On the day of the store’s formal opening, Patrick and Larry went all out for the assembled guests. Like manna from Heaven, a bevy of products and accessories were raffled off, with the grand raffle prizes being an iPod Touch and a MacBook Pro. Celebrities like Diether Ocampo, Zanjoe Marudo and photographer Patrick Uy could be seen eagerly trying out the displays, and I noted the avid interest a number of customers had with the Air laptop model. With the constant R&D that goes into new and improved Apple and Macintosh products, it’ll always be a treat to drop by this store. More power to Patrick and Larry.

Inhuman tales

Tales of the bizarre and extraordinary take center stage this week. Two of the novels can summarily be categorized as historical fiction with a twist; while the third, is science fiction/horror coming to us from the PC of one of the premier podcast authors, now in mainstream print for the very first time.

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes (available at National Bookstore): Set in Victorian England, Jonathan Barnes gives us a very assured first novel, one that had me thinking Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, by way of Neil Gaiman and Carl Hiassen; i.e. there are elements of fantasy and black comedy thrown in for good measure. Edward Moon is a magician/conjuror who has helped solve crimes, with the help of his accomplice, a hulking mute of a brute, known as the Somnambulist. A shadowy organization known as the Directorate seems to be in control of the political, social and cultural destinies of merry old England, and it’s here that fantastical elements and characters spring to life within the pages of this wonderfully rendered story. Like a master conjuror, Barnes ups the ante with each chapter, giving us superb fantasy entertainment — do I see a film option in the works?

The Hartlepool Monkey by Sean Longley (available at Fully Booked): Longley takes a marginal historical fact, that a monkey was tried and convicted in England as a French spy in the late 18th century, and builds a wonderful story that ponders philosophical questions touching on humanity, and whether it is behavior and deportment that make the man. Three narrators, all of whom make contact with Jacques — an ape, at different stages in his life, make up this novel. First, there’s Dr. Simon Legris; not much of a medical success, he searches and finds his “golden patient,” a Duke from Breton who happens to be fascinated in the natural sciences. This leads Simon to Africa and a disastrous safari, where he finds Jacques and brings him back to France. Then there’s Claudette, a courtesan; and lastly, Warren, a bottom feeder counsel, who defends Jacques when charged with espionage. Fascinating stuff.

Infected by Scott Sigler (available at National Bookstore): This is one creepy book. Sigler is better known as the best selling author of “podcast only audiobooks” and this is his first foray into commercial print. While ostensibly your run-of-the-mill Body Snatchers story, it’s the visceral style of writing and the plot development that makes this novel work. As one reads, one can easily imagine what the character is undergoing as Sigler takes something as ordinary as an itch or rash, and turns it into something malevolent and sinister. It’s a parasite type infection that leads to extremely violent behavior; and we’re with Drew, a CIA agent, as he works with Margaret Montoya of Disease Control. On the flip side of the coin, there’s Perry, an ex-college football player, who has been infected, and we follow his descent into madness and mayhem. This should come with a Warning label: Not for reading late at night!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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